Best Marketing Practices for the Holidays

The best marketing practices for the holidays is to follow Stephen Covey’s advice about the 7 habits of effective people: “Start with the end in mind.” Your “end” is to get more customers and make more profits.

GingerMyersImageEditor’s note: This week WAGN’s blog features a post from guest blogger Ginger Myers, Marketing Specialist, University of Maryland Extension. Read on for Myers’ tips on how your farm or food business can ramp up marketing and boost holiday sales.

The holiday season is the most important shopping time of the year. In 2014, $81.1 billion were spent on holiday shopping. That’s 17% of annual retail sales in just two months. For many direct marketers, ramping up for the holiday season starts with fall events. But there’s still time to capture a greater share of the winter holiday season.

Here’s how to get a slice of the pie.

  • Start planning your main campaign right now so you’re ready to launch well before Black Friday. By doing so, you’ll be able to take advantage of last-minute marketing opportunities.
  • Analyze your inventory. Take a good look at all the products and services you pickles_displayprovide. Are there any offerings that would be more useful at certain times of the year or around certain holidays? Organize all your products into specific groups according to their usefulness or tie-ins with specific dates.
  • Buy a large desk calendar with lots of room for writing. Take a colored pen and highlight all the upcoming holidays and any other special events or season you want to plan for in the upcoming months. Decide on target dates when you’d like to get an offer out to your current customer list or start a new marketing effort or promotion. Instead of promoting your items a week ahead of a certain holiday or event, you can begin a starter campaign two months before an event and escalate your efforts as a specific day draws near.
  • Repetition sells, so market often. Send multiple emails or holiday cards announcing your sales.
  • Concentrate on marketing your niche products to a highly targeted audience.wreath
  • Host a holiday season kick-off event to bring customers in, such as a tree-lighting ceremony with hot chocolate and a visit from Santa–and make sure customers leave with your holiday catalog.
  • Use email, social media and your website to let customers know about your upcoming deals.
  • Feature your upcoming holiday specials on your blog and reinforce the reasons its better to buy from you.
  • Partner with a restaurant to print table tents that promote your company to their customers
  • Make sure all your holiday marketing is measurable so you can track your return on investment and plan for an even more profitable campaign next year. Record what is working for your business and what is not. Mistakes can help better channel your choices for your marketing resources.

About thExtension_slogan_color_0e author: Ginger holds a B.S. from Penn State University, additional certifications in agricultural economic development, and serves on a wide variety of committees and organizations including: the Maryland State Agriculture Commission, Maryland’s Agricultural Marketing Professionals, and is an officer with Future Harvest- a Chesapeake Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture. She has over 25 years of experience in agri-business and small farm production. She has worked as an agricultural marketing specialist in Maryland since 1999. 

This article was adapted from an article that original appeared in the fall 2014 edition of the University of Maryland Extension’s Ag Marketing Newsletter.




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Mary Peabody Begins Sabbatical Adventures

For the next year, beginning October 1, 2014, WAgN Director Mary Peabody will be stepping back from day-to-day program delivery and management to focus more deeply on the areas of direct marketing and labor management as they impact small and medium-sized farms.

Mary Peabody

Women’s Agricultural Network Director Mary Peabody

“Specifically, I will be working on some new decision-making tools farmers can use to determine their optimal market mix and labor needs to attain their business goals,” she says. “One of the activities I’m looking forward to is the opportunity to talk with consumers about how their purchasing decisions have changed over time, the role of social media in their decision making, and what attributes of locally produced ag products are important to them.”

This year of study starts with the opportunity to attend the 2014 Slow Food Terra Madre and Salone del Gusto in Torino, Italy. This biennial event draws individuals from all over the world who are passionate about good, clean and fair food for the world’s largest food and wine fair, Salone del Gusto, and the concurrent world meeting of food communities, Terra Madre.

produce“Those that know my passion for farmers’ markets can probably guess how excited I am about this opportunity,” Mary says. 

If you’d like to follow Mary’s adventures in the coming year, keep an eye on her blog. She’ll also also be posting on WAgN’s social media sites.

“Having the gift of a year to focus on these areas of interest is a wonderful benefit of my work and I am extremely grateful for the opportunity,” Mary says. “But sabbaticals do leave holes that need to be filled. My leave would not happen without all of my fabulous UVM Extension co-workers, starting with Beth Holtzman and Heidi Krantz, who will be picking up many of my responsibilities during my absence.”

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Juggling Farm and Family?

Female farmers with children are wanted for interviews as part of a University of Vermont study on child care in farm families. kids potting soilFunded by a USDA-NIFA grant, this study is looking at the ways children impact a farm business and is intended to help develop policy that minimizes the challenges and maximizes the opportunities farm families face when making household-level decisions such as child care.

Emily Stengel, a graduate research assistant, will conduct interviews in November and December. picking beansThe interview can take place in your home or on your farm and will last about an hour and a half. All identities and personal information will be kept confidential.

In addition to individual interviews with farmers, the project hopes to conduct focus groups at conferences this winter, and to reach producers from Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Rhode, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York and New Jersey.

Interested? Please contact Emily directly at 717-669-1666 or

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